The Darwin Diaries - Day Three: "No worries" in laid back Darwin
"No worries" is a phrase you hear a lot in Darwin. The locals seem only too pleased to see a few new faces in town and they give their help and advice generously in this city of approx. 112,000 people. Everything has a leisurely feel about it - nothing is too rushed and any changes to timetables or destinations are greeted with a smile and an obligatory "No worries mate."
Located at the top end of Australia, Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory. The city is named after the British naturalist Charles Darwin, who sailed on the HMS Beagle during its second expedition in 1839. Just over one hundred years later, the city was bombed by the Japanese many times during World War II, the only know instance of Australia being attacked by invading forces. In more modern times, the city was decimated on 25 December 1974 by Cyclone Tracy, which killed 71 people and destroyed over 70% of the town's buildings. The town was subsequently rebuilt in the late 1970s and is now a thriving hub of commerce and tourism with Singapore and Jakarta less than four hours flying time away.
There is plenty to do in Darwin. Fishing, kayaking, trekking and hot-air balloning are all activities for the casual visitor, whist a visit to the spectacular Kakadu National Park would be high on the list of the more adventurous tourist.
This is the winter, yet temperatures hover around the 30-33°C mark during the day and dip to a more comfortable 23-25°C at night. Despite its distinct tropical feel, this is the dry season and rainfall is unlikely to cause any disruptions to matches during the tournament. The summer months (December-March) are a different story, when tropical cyclones are common and monsoon rains drench the city on average twenty days per month.
Wildlife is abundant in the area and birds of all shapes and sizes gather in large numbers in the many tree-lined parks and sports grounds around the city. The ants are big and look ferocious and one of the warm-up matches was interrupted when a brown grass snake slithered through the outfield, causing players to scatter.
If you thought a quick swim might be a good way to cool off, the waterways don't appear to be any safer - fresh-water crocodiles troll the inland rivers and the salt-water crocs are renowned man-eaters. If that wasn't enough of a deterrent, the sharks and lethal stinging box jellyfish might make you think twice before venturing into the sea. Needless to say, the hotel pool is a popular retreat. Come to think it, there's plenty to worry about...
The constant trill and chatter of birds is sporadically broken by the deafening roar of jet engines as F-18 fighter-bombers from the Royal Australian Air Force blast across the sky from the RAAF air force base that shares its runway with the Darwin International Airport, located just north of the city.
For the Hong Kong team, today's activities centred around an open wicket practise session at Marrara Sports Complex. The batters had a chance to hone their skills in the middle against the Hong Kong bowlers, while the bowlers were given a lengthy workout. Khalid Khan bowled especially well, extracting some extra bounce that had eluded him in the match against Italy. Coach Dighe kept a tight reign on things throughout in another intensive session played in the hottest part of the day.
The squad is gelling well, although Rahul Sharma has still to make an appearance.